KUALA LUMPUR, August 29 — Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye pledged to investigate all tyre explosion incidents involving Slim River Hospital’s ambulances after one got a burst tyre yesterday.
A Slim River Hospital ambulance’s tyre exploded in Trolak, Perak, yesterday afternoon, but it didn’t cause an accident. This happened just three weeks after another ambulance from the government hospital got into a fatal crash when its tyre blew out, killing the driver and patient.
“We will investigate the cause of burst tyres, whether it is due to improper maintenance or due to inappropriate type of tyres.
“We view seriously every accident involving ambulances because it involves the safety of the patients and also the driver and nurses and assistant medical officer who accompany the patient,” Dr Lee told CodeBlue.
Several Slim River Hospital staff have complained that the Ministry Of Health (MOH) hospital’s ambulances previously suffered burst tyres up to three times this year before the fatal August 4 accident, and three more times last year. Those incidents didn’t result in crashes.
According to Dr Lee, the number of road accidents involving ambulances rose from 20 in 2015 and 2016 to 45 in 2017 and 2018. The year 2014 saw 27 accidents. Last year, 18 of the 45 accidents saw injuries sustained. But the statistics he shared with CodeBlue didn’t contain information on the number of deaths from the accidents.
Last year saw at least three fatal road accidents involving ambulances, according to media reports, including one on July 18, 2018 involving a Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital ambulance that resulted from a tyre explosion, with the patient dying in hospital.
At least two collisions involving ambulances in 2017, according to the news, resulted in deaths. In 2015, a woman died in a traffic accident involving a Malaysian Armed Forces ambulance. The driver of a Hospital Kuala Lumpur ambulance died in a road traffic collision in 2014.
When asked if MOH would audit UEM Edgenta’s vehicle maintenance work in Slim River Hospital, Dr Lee said the government-linked company has performed the necessary maintenance as per its concession agreement with the ministry.
“We will still study the cause of burst tyres and hope that this will not repeat.”
UEM Edgenta has a 10-year concession with MOH ending 2025 to provide hospital support services for 32 MOH hospitals in Perak, Kedah, Penang and Perlis.